2021-Q1: State of The Website

Welcome to the 2021 Q1 website update post! Starting with this one, updates will be moving to a quarterly release instead of every two months. Since the last update, a lot has changed in terms of the website's direction due to time constraints in my life. I've had to refine the focus of the site, with such focus no longer including ThinkPads and documents have become 'demoted' in importance (only documents that provide keyboard data will be archived). This website is now purely focused on keyboards. Also, the site name has changed too!


Site design

In line with the newly refined focus for the website, the major landing pages have now changed (described in the next section). The "ThinkPad" page is now no longer presented (you can however access an archived version of some of the previous ThinkPad content here). The "Documents" page is now no longer a major feature of the website, thus you will need to access it through the "The Content" page instead.

Screenshot of the website's index page as of December 2020
The index page then (December 2020)
Screenshot of the website's index page as of February 2021
The index page now (February 2021)

Also changed on the home page is the doubling of the amount of articles displayed and a completely new section outlining some of the new features or content expected in the near future. Typically, these will be given a generic timeframe.

Screenshot of the website's index page as of December 2020
The index page now (December 2020)

My keyboard collection pages underwent an overhaul to deliver more useful information about them and showcase them better. Gone is the list of specs and a section explaining the type of keyboard, in is some more tailored sections include optional notes about my specific example, some original specs, pictures of the keyboard, and optional typing demo if available.

An SNKB page then (December 2020)
An SNKB page now (February 2021)

And finally, I've added a scroll-to-top button in the bottom-right corner of the page to make returning to the top of the page easier. This could be especially useful when reading an article page and you want to return to the contents menu near the top.

Photo of the new scroll to top button

New landing pages

With the archiving of the "ThinkPad" section and the removal of "Documents" as a separate entity, I partitioned the former "Keyboards" page into three new pages:

Keyboard database entries

This period has seen the slowest growth of part numbers since I started writing these updates, with only 51 new keyboards recorded. The simple reason is that I've been focused on other parts of the website recently. In any case, the newest additions are:

Keyboard icons

Since first rolling out the keyboard icons gallery, I've added many new icons including some IBM and co keyboards (listed below) and now some Alps keyboards too. At present, the gallery now totals 206 icons.

Keyboard icon wallpaper generator

The wallpaper generator has received numerous improvements for Q1. Not only are the new Alps icons supported with their own options, many UX updates, specific filtering options and the new select specific icon dialogue have been added. I now maintain a dedicated update log for the wallpaper generator too.


A look at Unicomp's new flagship - The New Model M

February turned out to be eventful for articles on the site! The first of the two articles written and released was my Unicomp New Model M review. In it, I went pretty in-depth; taking a full tour of the keyboard inside and out, commenting on the keycap architecture, noting some interesting observations, directly contrasting it to the Unicomp Ultra Classic, and answering a mini-FAQ suggested by r/ModelM. And of course, many photos, with some good ones previewed below.

First look at the Mini Model M prototype & helping Unicomp

The second article was a very important one for me and one of my proudest pieces for this website - the very first public-written debut preview and review of the Unicomp Mini Model M. Well, a prototype of. Around the end of January, Unicomp contacted me with a proposal to conduct a critical review of the keyboard and eventually release my findings online. This article documents my findings, the things I reported back to them, my opinions on the product, and many technical details and photos! Again, some previews below. Just note that this article is written about a pre-release prototype of the keyboard, however, you still can learn a lot about the final product from this (fundamentally, this prototype is close to the final version) and any differences between the prototype and the final product such as the teething issues found are highlighted and explained.


Keyboard Connections

This topic has received several additions in Q1. Firstly, many more socket pinouts are now available. These diagrams have also been made to a new clearer template (existing ones modified to match). Find below a sample of the new diagrams. Secondly, a new section entitled "Modular cable end-to-end mappings" has been added, featuring tables that describe what one end of a modular keyboard cable goes to on the other end. Presently 6-pin SDL to PS/2, 6-pin SDL to dual PS/2 and 8-pin POS SDL to PS/2 tables are written.

Further down the page, I've added the cable wire colours keys for the IBM 5535-ZAD numeric keypad (P/N 69H8533). It's still a work in progress since I haven't established each of the wires' functions, but what's already discovered is there if you want to see it!

Keyboard Layouts

This new fledgeling topic features many diagrams of IBM and co keyboard functional and unit size layouts. All of them are made using the Keyboard Layout Edit. It will be a while before the topic is fleshed out, but I think there is a nice start array of layouts to view. Find below a sample of them.

Differences between and classifications of 122-key Model Ms

This other new topic is a very unique and ready-completed one that compares the major variants of 122-key Model Ms. After seeing many attempts at classifying the variants that tend to overlook nuances, I thought I'd have a crack at 'standardising' it with my four-type system and presenting the differences in an easy to digest comparison. No doubt, it's still not perfect - it doesn't catch every exception to the rules and I still haven't figured out if Unicomp's PC-122s warrant a distinct classification (as explained in the topic). But for now, it will do!

cappybot Discord Bot

A rather exciting development is the launch of my first Discord bot! Designed specifically with r/ModelM's Discord server in mind, cappybot (which is named after the r/ModelM mascot) is designed to aid patrons of our server by making information regarding keyboards more accessible to them. It's also an official companion for this website. Key features include:

And, it's open-source! See below for a link to its source code and of course feel free to join the r/ModelM Discord server if you haven't done so already!